Thursday, June 30, 2005

Stormy night

Yesterday morning I learned from a local TV weather reporter that I am living in the middle of a mini tornado alley, thanks to the effects of Lake Superior some forty miles to the northeast. In the years we've had this place, there have been several severe storms, including one that topped off the giant spruce right next to the cabin. Being a few miles from town, a weather radio is essential equipment, although during daylight hours there is no substitute for watching the sky. Having animals helps too; they are particularly sensitive to abnormal weather.

But for some reason I wasn't worried last night. Even though I'd heard ominous forecasts all day long, by evening the weather was just cool and breezy with a little rain. The kids were in bed, except for Joey who insisted on staying up and watching "The Lone Ranger". I went to sleep around ten. At around 10:45 I woke up when Russ put a now-sleeping Joey in bed with me. It was raining hard. I glanced up outside the window; occasional flashes of lightning illuminated the branches of trees gently swaying. I was just settling back to sleep when I heard the robotic voice on the weather radio in the other room: "The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning...Pine County...Doppler radar indicated...Askov...moving towards Bruno..." Hmmm...sounds close. I glanced outdoors again. Torrential rain, slight breeze but I was convinced it didn't feel like tornado weather. I was more concerned about the prospect of hail ruining my garden. Still the simulated voice continued: "take cover immediately...flash flooding..." Take cover. Where would we go? The only basement we have is a small cellar in the foundation of the new house; it isn't even covered yet. It would be a lot of trouble and perhaps more dangerous to rouse the kids out of bed, run them to the car in the pouring rain, and drive to the neighbors' house. All things considered, inside the cabin in bed was probably the safest place to be. If anything was happening.

Lady, our yellow lab, was snoring on the foot of Nina's lower bunk. The cats lounged on the bedroom floor. Aren't animals supposed to go crazy if bad weather is approaching? I listened outside; the rain pounded, the wind breezed through the pines. A normal rainstorm. I pretended to be asleep while Russ paced around, looked outside, listened to the radio. "Flash not drive across water in road...tornado warning...has been allowed to expire...". Whew.

Such is the nature of my faith. In the eye of the storm, when fierce winds blow, I just know, somehow, that everything is going to be okay. I can be a fierce mama bear sometimes when it comes to protecting my kids, but inside there's a voice that tells me when to act, and when to remain still and not to worry. And I find myself trusting this voice over the mechanical simulation which draws its conclusions from abstactions. I trust the Real.

I checked out my garden first thing in the morning, and everything was fine. The clear plastic was still up on the tomato hoop houses, plants were standing up, even the bean tepees were in place. On my drive to work I looked for damage, for evidence, but saw not a single leaf or twig on the ground.


lené said...

Sounds like quite a night. I enjoyed your story about trusting yourself--about reading the signs around you and trusting that you know when to act.

Erich said...

It was interesting to read a mother's account of a thunderstorm. Glad you escaped unscathed. It boomed pretty loud for a while in Duluth.

Adversity, especially when natural and unavoidable, really teaches us a lot of faith. “It’s okay,” I always tell Amber, and if you believe that then it is okay. It was good that you were calm and collected; no reason to freak the kids out for nothing.

Also, when “Moma Bear” needs to come out and break your cool everyone knows you mean it.